18-year old Female Knuckler Lands Friday

Posted by at 5 May, at 10 : 00 AM Print

By Philip Riccobono

The Chico Outlaws confirmed Eri Yoshida lands in San Francisco from Tokyo, Friday morning. After she clears customs, Japan’s first professional female baseball player heads to Chico for her first news conference as an Outlaw. Golden League Baseball has already received over 150 media requests, including networks for May 29 when Chico takes on Tijuana for Yoshida’s anticipated debut. ESPN may cut into their programming live from Chico. League Commissioner Kevin Outcalt expects the right-handed side arm Yoshida to handle the whirlwind experience. “She’s incredibly professional and her demeanor reminds me of an Olympic gymnast.”

Yoshida recently graduated from high school in Japan on March 20, with already having pitched a season in the Arizona Fall League where she went 1-1, 4.79 ERA in 10 games, under the tutelage and guidance of Outlaws President Mike Marshall (former Dodger All-Star). “Yoshida-san” may hit too as the Golden League just dropped the DH rule.

Prior to the Arizona Fall League, Yoshida broke the Japanese gender-barrier signing with Kobe 9 Cruise of the independent Kansai League. Her arsenal includes a mid 60MPH fastball, a cutter dropping at the knees, and her signature knuckle ball, clocked in the 40s. The big question for her: “Can she make the knuckle ball move?” explained Outcalt. The Boston Red Sox Tim Wakfield, Yoshida’s idol seemed impressed with her as Yoshida threw in front of him at an early March Spring Training workout. Yoshida’s is self-taught on the knuckleball, which surprised Wakefield.

Despite what she might achieve for Chico, hurdles lie ahead for a shot at MLB. Women have not played in the majors during the modern era. MLB, typically is an all mens club. In 1952 Commission Ford Frick sent out a memo, banning women. Although MLB has confirmed no such rule is on the books. In spite of that Yoshida heads into a season that will grab attention on two continents. With the Outlaws schedule, Yoshida will showoff her pitching prowess across North America (United States, Canada, and Mexico). Soon Yoshida will have an even broader international following.

Dan Hawkins contributed to this story

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